Clinicians with mental health difficulties

A letter from our October edition.

A letter was published in the December 2015 issue entitled ‘Patient and professional’ from an unnamed psychological wellbeing practitioner who talked about her experience of borderline personality disorder. I am surprised by the lack of reaction to this; it seems to me that mental health services can only be improved by professionals being more open and willing to share similar experiences. I am not talking about self-disclosure in therapy but asking for more general discussion of personal psychological difficulties. Or perhaps I am mistaken and those who practice in the field are immune to such things? The results reported from the British Psychological Society and New Savoy Partnership survey – ‘46% of psychological professionals said that they felt depressed and 49.5% reported feeling they were a failure’ (April 2015) – suggests not. Yet in the last few months, I have found only a handful of references to these problems and rarely from an individual perspective.

I confess I have an ulterior motive in asking people to speak up: I myself am looking for encouragement. How realistic it is for somebody who has spent several years struggling with depression to continue to harbour a desire to work in the field of clinical psychology? Well-meaning people, anxious to prevent further discouragement say, ‘But your experiences give you a better understanding!’ Perhaps. But I want to hear it from the clinicians themselves. One may achieve greater compassion and empathy for others through one’s own psychological difficulties, but I want to know if that is enough to help others overcome theirs, in a professional context. Are there mental health practitioners out there who have always had to fight the urge to hide under their desk when they arrive in work each morning? Even if not, I would still like to hear more of people talking openly about their own mental health in forums such as The Psychologist. Leading by example ought to be an effective way of combating stigma around seeking support for psychological distress.

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Comments

It is somewhat telling that practicing professionals within the field of psychology are wary to self disclose their own personal journeys, maybe cause they either pretend daily they do not have any mental health/emotional issues and number two they are deeply concerned that somehow their disclosure will be detected in some way.
I am in my final year as an undergraduate so maybe this is why I am possibly a bit more free in speaking here as a student however as a qualified professonal while I will not shout from the roof tops my own experiences with fragile emotional/mental health I will neither shy away from the fact.
There is a high level of stigma towards those living with mental health issues who are not woring within this field, so it is understandable to assume that those who are professionals fear even a greater level of stigma by unfortunately their colleagues.
As a side note the Borderline Personality Disorder diagnosis is in my humble view and also according to Mr Herb Kuutchins and Stuart A. Kirk is but a "dust bin" diagnosis, in that when a medical professional is presented with an individual who has seemingly many different issues and manages to tick at least 5-6 of the check list boxes this diagnonsis shall be given hennceforth.
This diagnonsis is incredibly problematic for the following reasaons, those with this unfortunate diagnonsis are deemed highly charming yet unpleasant if they do not get their own way, prone to high sexual dysfunction, and all around general dysfunctional acts of rage which could leave another reelling at its intensity and so on, yah yah yah.
This mental illness was created, it is not nice to entertain this notion but I must put this out there as we must take into careful consideration that the majority of all who are given this label are females and viewed by professionals as hyper sexual,a lack of boundaries an almost masculine angry energy and more, the DSM is a funny ol book!
Not so long ago homosexuality was viewed as a mental illness however with social change this was thereafter removed from its pages, my point being, the DSM is much about the social events which are taking place in which mental health disorders are created as it is about truly trying to help others.
The most scary and dangerous part of all of this is that many mental health professionals swear by the DSM, choosing to suger coat its many failings/discrepencies.
Ahh..let us speak about the swiftly removed *Masochist Personality Disorder*, again in the main applied to females,the idea was that some women were mentally disordered to the point of no return, the increasing rise of feminism and prot protests during a volatile period of history saw the *law makers* within the DSM very quicklly remove this newly create mental disorder.

To conclude and yes I have digressed(my apologies) more professionals within this field NEED to be much more transparent about their own struggle with with fragile mental/emotional health difficulties.

I must say, one of the best articles that I have read on here for a while, thank you.

Please accept my apologies on my typos.
I am very sleepy.